The clock on the train as I passed Tampere, Finland. Five is the number of grace, and my birthday has three five’s and a ten in it: 5 October 1955. I think God is trying to tell me something!
I slept well, as I knew I would, despite the looming necessities to get cash to pay for my room, and get my travel to Helsinki settled. When I got up and got some Bible and coffee into myself, I set my GPS to find the nearest cash machine.
I went right where it said, but there was no cash machine anywhere in the area. Finally I stopped a man who was walking by. He said, “Follow me.” He walked very fast on legs a lot longer than mine. A few blocks away, he pointed and said that I would find a cash machine by the door (which was out of sight behind a wall). I did find the cash machine there and got the money to pay for my room.
The next thing was to get my travel to Helsinki settled. I went to the train station, but there was no ticket office. The only way to get a ticket was the ticket machine. And the ticket machine sold me a ticket on the next train. I hadn’t wanted to go on the next train, but there was no one there and no way to change the ticket. So I headed back toward the B & B. But on the way there was a gas station because I really needed a bathroom. The gas station had a pretty nice restaurant, so I thought I would stay and have breakfast, since I had no food at the B & B. I paid for my breakfast buffet and turned to see Tiina, a friend I had met in Faroe Islands. She was there with her friend and roommate, Jenna, who I had also met in Faroe Islands. Turns out that the restaurant is part of their hotel. So we had breakfast together.
I told them about my difficult day yesterday, and about my difficulties that morning. Tiina said that we could call the train company, and she gave the task to Jenna. After about ten minutes on the phone, Jenna came back and told me that they had issued me a new ticket that I could find on my email and they had waived the €5 fee, too. I checked my email and there it was. Jenna said that the only thing was that the train was for 2:07AM. I said, “That’s perfect! I’ll get to the airport with time to spare, and I’ll sleep on the train.”
And I looked up and there was Tim, a pastor from Canada that I had also met in Faroe Islands. Wow! This was beginning to feel like a real reunion. Tim, his wife, and friend offered me a lift to the church. Of course I accepted.
So both of my problems were fixed before the morning meeting started. I was glad because I didn’t want to go with those issues hanging over my head. At the morning meeting we prayed in groups of three. My group was Leena, Pirjo, and me. Pirjo told us that she’s a radiologist at a hospital that has only one doctor of radiology doing the work of three—and he’s looking to move to a bigger city. So that was an issue that we prayed for her, and as we prayed, I told them that I could tell that Pirjo has gentle, healing hands. In fact, I specifically said that I could imagine how gently she would do a mammogram. She said that that is exactly what kind of radiology she does.
Our prayer time together was really sweet. They gave us a topic and a few minutes to pray, then another topic, and then the next topic, and so forth. We took turns and it was like one person praying, using three different mouths. It was very enjoyable.
Then I went to look for the pedestrian tunnel I had heard about that goes under the railroad tracks. Knowing about it would have saved me the three mile journey my GPS had taken me on yesterday. But it wasn’t where I had been told. In fact I walked all along the railroad tracks and didn’t find even the hint of a path or a tunnel. I started to head back to the church, thinking perhaps to find someone who could help me or at least a place to rest there. But even halfway to the church my right foot became sore, and I began to get discouraged again. So I prayed that God would send me an angel to show me where the tunnel is.
Within a minute I got not one, but two angels in the form of my friends Amiina and Nola. They invited me to lunch at their hotel. So I went with them and found that I had been very close to the tunnel, but it had remained out of sight until we got closer to it.
They were surprised at my difficulties, but then again, they’re Finnish and know better how things work here. The restaurant at their hotel was called Amarillo—a Tex-Mex place. There were things I’ve never seen before on the menu, and I got one of them: a lamb taco. Since I’m trying to avoid carbohydrates I dumped the contents of my taco on top of a salad. It was pretty good. Not exactly Mexican food, but not bad. Nola had told me that God speaks to her in numbers and in colors, so I told her what the Spanish word amarillo means: yellow. She was thrilled, but never got the chance to tell me why because the church had begun congregating and then singing in the piazza just outside the window. Amiina and Nola finished up to go join them. And I went back to my B & B to rest up for tonight.
While I was there Mrs. Järvi came to show the room next to mine to some guests. When she finished with them, I paid her what I owed for the room and she wrote me a receipt. I also asked her if she could call and request a taxi to pick me up at 1:45AM to take me to the train station. She pointed out that it’s close (about half a mile). But I told her that I can’t drag my suitcase and backpack half a mile in the middle of the night. She agreed that it was best to get a taxi.
There were four girls in the room across the hall that were also going to the conference. So when it came time to go, and they were still there, I knocked on their door and asked for a ride. They said yes. In the car they chattered to each other in Finnish, and none showed the slightest curiosity about me. That was fine. I was grateful for the ride. And once we arrived at the church I never saw any of them again.
The evening session was also really good, and at the end of it Nola found me and asked me if I wanted to get dinner together. Then she asked the nearest person, a man, if he had a car. He said that he did, so she invited him to dinner, too. We went to eat at a gas station—a different one from breakfast. If you’re hungry in Finland, look for a gas station. The man’s name is Harri, and he had a harp in the back of his car. Harri has been taking harp lessons. Nola asked him, “What does the music of the harp represent to you?” Harri immediately answered: “Breath. The breath of God.” Nola does dance ministry, so she and Harri agreed to get together sometime and she’ll dance to his harp music.
Harri dropped Nola off at her hotel first because it turns out that he is actually staying in the same place as I am. So I got back at a decent hour and slept very well until 1:15 when my alarm went off, and I had to get dressed and ready to go.
I had prepared my bags before going to bed, so that all I had to do was a quick shower and close up my room when the taxi came.
He came promptly at 1:45 and took me to the train station. There was a train for Helsinki that was departing as I walked up. My sleepy mind couldn’t understand, it could only panic. I looked at the time and saw that it had left about ten minutes early. Then the sign for my train came up.
I had an assigned seat on this nearly empty train. But someone was laid out across all three seats, fast asleep. Since there were lots of other empty compartments I found one where a woman was sleeping alone. I laid out across from her and tried to sleep, but I just couldn’t get comfortable. This trip was going to be about five hours. So after a while I gave up and went to the non-assigned seats. Often I can sleep sitting upright on trains, buses, airplanes, or cars. The train only stopped about five times, but every time it stopped, it stood still for about half an hour. The stopping and starting kept waking me, so all told I didn’t get more than maybe another hour of sleep in ten to fifteen minute segments.
As we were pulling into Helsinki I noticed that the time was after nine. I looked at my ticket, convinced that I would be arriving about 8:30AM. That’s when I noticed that I was supposed to have gotten off at the last stop.
I dragged my luggage through the whole of Helsinki station looking for the ticket office, but it was closed. There were only machines. Since I couldn’t explain to a human being about the error, I went to a machine and tried to buy a ticket for the train to the airport. But the train company I had arrived on didn’t have an airport train—not from Helsinki. So I had to go to a different ticket machine. But I couldn’t find the airport listed in English. I wandered through the train station, dragging my bag and wondering what I was going to do. Finally I realized that coffee would help. So I went to get a coffee, and the first place was out—a coffee place that was out of coffee, really? Finally I got a coffee and decided to try another machine. This time there was English and I got a ticket to the airport.
When I got to Italy I spent my first night in an airport hotel. A good night’s sleep was just what I needed before the next challenge of getting to Biella (and it turns out that you can’t go straight from Malpensa to Biella without heading back toward Milan first).
This morning a friend posted the following prophecy on Facebook. It sounds like a direct communication from God to me:
The Father says today, I am not wounding you, I am pruning you. Yield to the pruning, says God. What you have seen as unnecessary and to be avoided is a part of My needful process of bringing you to the very place you have cried out to be.
When I was trying to encourage myself on the long, long trek to the church on Friday, I had this very thought, but dismissed it because I thought that it was my own hopes. No! This thought had been God speaking encouragement to my heart.
The habits of the past and unfruitful attitudes are being cut away as I prepare you for a seed-fruit-harvest season. Would you like to know what it is for the plowman to overtake the reaper? Would you like to experience everything that you say and do becoming as effective as if I said it or did it? Would you like to see the seeds of your obedience produce a harvest before they hit the ground? That experience is available and in fact, in the book of your days written in the heavens before the foundation of the earth, THIS is THAT time for you!
God has been speaking to me for a couple of years about this being a season of acceleration, but as yet I haven’t seen it. Perhaps this pruning is what is needed before the acceleration really can manifest in my life.
Your life was never meant to be a gauntlet of endless suffering or interminable waiting for breakthrough that never comes. That is not your portion, so prepare your heart for the level of cooperation necessary to get you from where you are now to THAT place of richness and abundance.
These past few days in Finland have felt like a gauntlet of endless suffering, but also big blessings.
Your assignment currently is to see yourself not through the lens of your estimation of your shortcomings any longer. Look again, says the Father, look again. See yourself through the lens and through the filter of My potential on the inside of you. If you allow your plans and hopes to be tempered by your understanding of your limited capacities, you will sell yourself far short of what I am actually willing to bring about. I have not chosen you to accomplish the plausible. I have chosen you to achieve the impossible. Get ready, says God.
This is also what I have told myself: it’s not me, it’s my willingness to let God move through me.
Accept the pruning, says God. Though it may seem like I have cut you to the quick, know this, that a great harvest is ahead of blessing and purpose and a greater works anointing. Keep your eye on that harvest and not the chaff that is being burned away. The fires of My refinement are perfecting My character in you in anticipation of that good thing that is breaking in your life right now. Embrace it. Accept it and know that at the end of the process you will have tasted of the powers of the world to come and seen My promise come to pass in full measure in your life.
Yes, this is all for a purpose and is all part of God’s plan. Although I have a tendency to get very cranky when I’m tired and my feet are sore and I’m lost in a country where I don’t know the language, what God is saying is never give in to despair, but believe that all this has a higher purpose. God is good!
 See My Holy Help on a Difficult Day.
 Who had interpreted for me last night, see My Holy Help, link above.
 The Finnish word for airport is Lentoasema. No wonder I couldn’t figure out which ticket to choose for the airport.
 See My Holy Help, link above.